"Since even before ancient times, mankind has found significance and meaning in the various star constellations of the night sky. Even considering them gods. This is called Astrolatry.
Astrolatry is the worship of stars and other heavenly bodies as deities, or even as simple as the association of deities with heavenly bodies. Common examples of this are sun gods and moon gods in polytheistic religious systems all over the world. Other examples are the association of the planets with deities in Babylonian and Greco-Roman religion, such as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
In the far east Asia things were no different and I would like to introduce one belief or practice of revering the stars that dealt with military strategy, or Heiho 兵法 in Japanese. To our modern mind it may seem extremely superstitious and risky to base your military strategy on the stars in the sky, but in ancient China, Korea, and Japan it was considered fundamental and logical.
"When considering a battle plan, one of the first steps a Warring States Period Samurai General would take would be to find the location of the star known as Hagunsei (破軍星) or “the army breaking star” and the direction it is pointing in. Hagunsei is a star in the constellation of Ursa Major. It is the star at the end of the handle in the Big Dipper.
The reason it was so important to know the location of this star is because according to Scott C. Littleton in his 2005 published book, “Gods, goddesses, and mythology”, in Chinese fortune-telling, north is believed to be a very unlucky direction. Northwest is even worse. Hunters and soldiers traditionally did not point guns and weapons in the direction of this star.
"In Chinese tradition, the Big Dipper is made up of seven stars:
The seventh star of the Big Dipper, Hagunsei, was also worshipped as the god of bows and arrows, and in the Middle Ages it was revered as the guardian deity of warriors and worshipped by many of the major samurai clans such the Chiba, Soma, Ouchi, and others.
"This traditional superstition or belief in the Hagunsei star was deeply influenced by Taoism, the Yin-Yang and Five Elements ideology, and later by the Yin-Yang Doctrine that developed independently in Japan (Onmyodo), which gave rise to the belief that Amaterasu is the North Star (Hokushin Myoken), also known as Taichi. Originally, the worship of Hokushin Myoken was reserved for only the Japanese emperor, but later, it spread to the common people. Around this time, there also developed the tradition of “housing” the Buddhist deity, Kokūzō Bosatsu 虚空蔵菩薩, in the celestial star of Hagunsei.
To read to rest of the article, visit Askew San's blog: CLICK HERE
All Sean Askew posts shared with the permission of the author.
Shane Sensei is a licensed Shidoshi in the Bujinkan and member of the Shidoshi-Kai. He has trained in the Bujinkan since 1998 and regularly travels to Japan for training.